On April 5, 1945, 101 African American U. S. Army Air Forces officers of the 477th Bomber Group were arrested at Freeman Field in Indiana and charged with violations under the 64th Article of War. The maximum penalty for their alleged crimes during time of war was death.
April 19, 1945, General George C. Marshall, the armed forces Chief of Staff, ordered the 101 released. He did allow General Hunter to place administrative reprimands in each of their records.
Three of the officers involved in the protests, 2nd Lts. Terry, Mardsen A. Thompson, and Shirley R. Clinton, were kept under solitary confinement and eventually tried under a general court martial with charges brought by Col. Selway during the first week of July 1945 at Goodman Field. The trio was acquitted, except for a single charge against 2nd Lt. Terry who was found guilty of “jostling” a superior officer.
In August of 1995, the Air Force began to remove, upon request, General Hunter’s letters of reprimand from the permanent files of the officers charged at Freeman Field.
In announcing the reversal of the actions taken against these men in 1945, Air Force Assistant Secretary Rodney Coleman said:
“The 104 officers involved in the so-called “mutiny” have lived the last 50 years knowing they were right in what they did – yet feeling the stigma of an unfair stain on their records because they were American fighting men, too – and wanted to be treated as such.”
On March 29, 2007 the officers of the 477th, along with other members of the Tuskegee Airmen, were presented with a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush.
Learn more about the Freeman Field Mutiny at
- Freeman Field Mutiny
- The Freeman Field Mutiny and Tuskegee Airmen Beyond Alabama
- “Tuskegee Airmen History: The Freeman Field Mutiny” by Ronald E. Franklin